The multimillionaire behind Perth’s NRL bid says he would welcome a relocated Cronulla franchise with open arms if the club folds in the Shire.
Tony Sage, the owner of the Perth Glory A-League club, is lobbying the ARL Commission for Perth to be given the next NRL license in an expanded competition. The state has not had a team since Perth Reds were axed in 1997.
While Sage’s initial talks with the league have been based around the formation of a franchise from scratch, the mining magnate has revealed he would be prepared to take over and relocate the Sharks.
”We would take them tomorrow, without a shadow of a doubt,” Sage said. ”We would pick them up and fast-track something here. It would work for the NRL, it would mean one less side in Sydney.
”I noted that [ARLC chief executive] David Smith recently said he wanted the NRL to be a truly national game and this would be an opportunity for that to happen. We would love to have them as the Perth Sharks. The interest over here would be phenomenal.”
There are fears that the latest crisis engulfing Cronulla could force them to close. The Sharks are one of the most cash-strapped clubs in the game, having operated without a chief executive for three years.
Up to 14 Sharks players are facing the prospect of being rubbed out for allegedly taking performance-enhancing substances, while four members of coach Shane Flanagan’s support staff have been sacked as the fallout continues.
Flanagan has also been stood down, while the NRL has had to step in to provide funding and direction to a club that has admitted to ”management failings”.
Sage has an affinity with the Sharks, having grown up in the Shire and played league at Port Hacking High School.
”You don’t just want to kick out a side like that and lose all of that history,” he said. ”I grew up as a Sharks supporter, I grew up in Port Hacking. I was a Sharks man through and through.”
A league team in Perth would have the added advantage of allowing games to be played during the day and beaming into the eastern states at prime time.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.